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Webmaster Tools - URL Parameters Questions

10:37 am on Oct 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Just been looking at the URL Parameters section on Webmaster Tools for one of my sites, and could use some advice.

My site is structured as follows:


I don't use any URL parameters at all, however if added to a URL they may still resolve the page.

Parameters such as:


However, WMT has also picked up parameters I have rewritten via htaccess (maybe from a long time ago):


I can't see any option to delete these parameters, only specify if they change the content or not.

Any ideas?

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 4:00 pm (utc) on Oct 26, 2012]
[edit reason] used example.tld to disable auto-linking [/edit]

4:40 pm on Oct 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't worry about Google knowing about the URL arguments. But, you might consider adding the canonical URL to the HEAD of each page. That way, whether Google finds it through the regular URLs you use or using the parameters, it will know that both results represent the same page.

5:27 pm on Oct 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Add the canonical or have your site do a redirect but don't touch the settings in WMT. Those particular parameters DO change the page content. The kind that Google is interested in knowing about are params like: "session id", and "return to" that you use for tracking visitors, but which don't change the page contents.
9:41 pm on Oct 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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however if added to a URL they may still resolve the page

That is the default behavior for static extensions such as html. If it's a major problem, and you use no parameters at all, you can put the line
AcceptPathInfo Off
in your htaccess. But it's rarely worth the trouble, and you may accidentally switch off hidden functions such as analytics or auto-indexing.
11:42 pm on Oct 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Parameter handling via GWT is a "suggestion" to Google as to how to handle parameters. IMO, this is weaker even than the rel canonical attribute, which is itself not reliable.

if you think these parameters are causing a real issue with performance, then force a redirect from them to the rewritten version so they get dropped from Google's map (almost) entirely.

Of course, Google is URL-hungry, so it may be that these represent an insignificant problem that does not need to be fixed. That said, if you're the tidy type, I'd suggest you fix them without using Google's proprietary method - which may not fix them at all :)
3:12 am on Oct 27, 2012 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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# if the requested url contains a query string
# 301 redirect to the same path on the canonical hostname without a query string
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} .
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://example.com/$1? [R=301,L]

usual disclaimers apply: "professional driver on a closed course"

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